Trumpian Chaos


In September, 2001, three planes high jacked by terrorists were aimed at three carefully selected targets: The Pentagon, the Twin Towers and Washington D.C. The 20th anniversary of that event is due this year. The symbolic intent of the terrorists was clear; the first was aimed at the U.S. military, the second at the nation’s economic centre and the third, we may presume, at the centre of its government in Washington, possibly at the President himself. The first two targets were hit as planned, the economic centre taking the severest damage. The courage of the passengers in grappling with the terrorists prevented the third plane from reaching its target – the Presidency and the seat of government was spared. 

Capitol Hill

What the terrorists failed to do in their attempt to symbolically destroy the seat of government and the Presidency, Donald Trump as sitting President has almost achieved in the last days of his Presidency. The bizarre claims of being robbed of the election, the refusal to concede and the stirring up of  violent demonstrations against the seat of government on Capitol Hill which have ended in loss of life have astounded and sickened most law-abiding Americans. 

It is a story line which the most rabid of film makers would be hard pressed to conceive. It is not fiction, however, but hard, scarcely believable fact. The situation for American democracy was utterly critical. It was imperative that Republicans and Democrats put law and order and the constitution before party, and this highly dangerous demagogue  was stopped. Twelve months ago, here in Britain we had our own serious threat to our constitution over the Brexit issue, but in the mercy of God  we survived it. The American scene is, however, much more serious. We must pray that in the mercy of God America will also survive this current chaos. It is crucial not only for America but for the world.


In recent years there has been considerable amount of writing about  democracy and what is needed to maintain it. That is largely because over the last few decades we have seen a number of fledgling democracies crumple before unscrupulous “strongmen” and become “tyrannies” beset with corruption. 

The American dream of the 1990s of spreading its democratic ideal across the nations to replace the post-war hard, authoritarian regimes has taken a severe hit in this new century. Among those commenting on the need to watch over the democratic way of governance, there has been a general recognition that certain norms of personal behaviour are vital for the health of democracy. These “norms” fundamentally involve respect (verbal and actual) by political leaders for their opponents and for the laws of the constitution. 

Attacks on these “norms” can be recognised when: 

    1. There is a failure to play by the rules of democracy, that is to say, for example, a refusal to accept credible electoral results, or an endorsement of mass protest movements tinged with violence. 
    2. There is lack of tolerance and demonisation of political opponents, calling them “subversive” or even “criminals”.
    3. There is toleration of violence, refusing to condemn it among their supporters, and even encouraging it. (see: How Democracies Die; Levitsky & Ziblatt p.23).

It is abundantly evident that Donald Trump has consistently failed to observe these norms right from the very beginning of his Presidency, and especially so since his defeat in the recent election. His utter inability to acknowledge any personal defeat of any kind (a very telling and marked psychological weakness) or to take note of any rational advice has been of such an order that the possibility of making him “unfit to rule” as defined by a U.S. constitutional amendment is something that has to be seriously considered.


Some very dangerous consequences have already flowed out of the fiasco of these events. In the first place China has been given a propaganda opportunity of the highest order. China has a repressive party regime which keeps that nation under  a strict authoritarian grip. In order for that regime to survive it has to demonstrate its legitimacy against those who urge the freedoms of open democracy. The events in America will greatly help the Chinese rulers to contrast the weakness and foolishness of democratic regimes with its own purposeful regime, and so strengthen its repressive hand. It will particularly help the Chinese rulers in justifying their increasing clamp down on Hong Kong’s freedoms, and will also make them more determined than ever to increase their authoritarian control of their own  country. What is true of China is also equally true of an equally repressive Russia, which has been offered the same propaganda bonus.

Secondly, assuming there is now a proper transition to Joe Biden as President, the new president will face a difficult task in bringing together a bitterly divided American nation and keeping a lid on further riotous behaviour. Existing deep divisions in America have been made much worse by Donald Trump’s divisive political behaviour patterns. Neo-anarchist groups have found new opportunities and become more active. 

The process of healing will not be easy. Donald Trump located people in areas of social deprivation across America and was able to exploit their needs to work out his demagogic call. Recognising that need and addressing that depredation with appropriate legislation will be crucial in the future. If Joe Biden finds that, like President Obama, he is constitutionally prevented from implementing any real remedial social policies the anger and division may well remain. Unrest and bitterness is dangerous in a nation when unity is particularly important at the moment. How much better Joe Biden’s political agenda will be than Donald Trump’s remains to be seen. He may restore “the law”, but if he and his party pursue an all-out libertarian “woke” style agenda with “freedoms” that are in reality socially destructive then he will bring further tragedy to America. 

World Order

This leads one to say that all this current chaotic scene needs to be seen in the ongoing historical process of America’s gradual loss of its position as the acknowledged leader and protector of the world order.

At the end of the last century, with the U.S.S.R. having disintegrated, its position as the dominating world power able to keep “the peace” seemed unassailable. In the year 2000 America stood on a crest. That has now radically changed. The fall from that crest began with the 9/11 attack and the all-out war on terrorism that it provoked. In the decade which followed that attack the military was further mauled in the highly unsuccessful “regime change” attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan, and the economy was equally mauled by the enormous expenditure incurred by those wars and by the disastrous financial and economic effects of the sub-prime scandal and its bank failures. Though spared in the terrorist attack, the presidency of George Bush proved to be weak and was manipulated by stronger and more clever men who were really responsible for the disastrous foreign ventures. 

The presidency of Barack Obama was crippled by his inability to effect legislation for real social relief where it was needed, and by his inability to calm the Middle East, which became increasingly a thorn in America’s side. 

Donald Trump made some significant noises in the direction of China and Iran, but generally withdrew from important international bodies in favour of “America First” and has finally left office causing an unprecedented debacle . 

Containing Russia in the past was one thing but containing China in the future will be equally important and, one suspects, much more difficult.  The future will require the gift to the nation of a president who exhibits a rare ability of wisdom, and strength. For that to happen, the common cry of “God bless America” will have to become a deep and earnest prayer of repentance, and there will have to be a return to the faith and godly behaviour of the nation’s early fathers.

Click here to read more about Coronavirus and the judgements of God

The God Who Weeps – Comment on the Coronavirus Situation

A God of Compassion

I remember reading many years ago a testimony of an elderly man of God who was preparing to speak on the judgement of God. As he pondered he felt God said to him, “Before you speak of my judgement listen to the tone of my voice”.

The man of God recognised immediately that he was being warned that the subject of judgement was not one to be addressed in harsh and “judgmental” tones. He needed first to recognise that behind the strong and painful disciplinary action of God there was in fact a heart that was tender, compassionate and greatly reluctant to see such pain afflicted; there was a heart of love which was longing to bless, yet in faithfulness had as a last resort to bring judgement and pain. Thus the man of God was not prevented from speaking judgement but he was clearly reminded of a need for tenderness and compassion. The heart of God remains always “slow to anger and swift to bless”. 

Easter presents us with a remarkable scene in which this “tone of voice”, this deep love of God, is vividly demonstrated as Jesus himself speaks of judgement. Luke records how on Palm Sunday Jesus approached Jerusalem by the descent from the Mount of Olives.

As the panoramic view of the city opened up, he wept over it. The tears were compulsive and prophetic, revealing the heart of God. He wept because he knew the appalling judgement that would come on the city as a consequence of its rejection of him and his Father.

It would have been appropriate if he had wept for himself over his own painful death that was shortly to come in the city, but his thoughts and tears were not for himself but for the people of the city and all the pain that was to come to them; he was weeping for a wayward, godless people. And as he wept he spoke out a word of both lament and judgment; 

“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.” Lk. 19:41ff 

Jesus was prophesying judgment by “the sword” on the city. Forty years later it happened; the city was besieged and virtually annihilated by a Roman army, with appalling distress and huge loss of life. 

 Two facts are highlighted by this episode: the first is that God is a God of great compassion and deeply reluctant, even distressed, to see people suffer under judgement. He is indeed the God who has “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather is pleased when they turn from their ways and live”. (Ez. 18:23) There is a striking echo of this truth in the Book of Jonah.

When Jonah warned Nineveh of the judgement to come on account of its wickedness, the people of the city from the king downwards repented of their evil and were spared. God was pleased. But Jonah was actually angry that God had had mercy on the city, and sulked. God rebuked him with the words “Nineveh has more than one hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” Nineveh was one of the most godless and rapacious cities that history has seen (vividly portrayed in the book of Naham) and ripe for judgement, yet God was concerned for it and concerned to spare it. Such is the deep longing in the heart of God for the worst of sinners to come to repentance.

What a contrast this is to the bitter vengeful anger of Jonah who seemed more concerned about his status and validity as a prophet than about “sinners who repent”. He seems to have failed utterly to grasp the fact that the prophecy he had been given of Nineveh’s destruction was designed to give the Ninevites an opportunity to repent, and that his ministry had actually been successful!

There is an important corollary to this Jonah story. It is quite wrong to think that speaking out a word of judgement is an “act of doom and gloom” and to be repressed. If it is done genuinely at the prompting of God and with a heart of genuine love and tearful concern, it can be the very instrument (and in some cases the only instrument) by which repentance can be brought about. (Gospel preaching which never touches on the judgement of God and the deep need of repentance loses much of its power!).

In this judgement/lament the tone of God’s voice is epitomised in the words of Jesus, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes”. They betray a voice of deep, heartfelt sorrow and anguish. They are like the voice of an anguished human father or mother who want to see their child blessed, but see their child turn away in wilful ignorance from the path that would lead to blessing and follow instead a path of pain and destruction. Such words remind us of the stunned anguish with which the writers of tragedy finish their stories in which something that could have been so happy and beautiful ended needlessly in pain and disaster. That is how God saw it.

The teaching ministry of Jesus had spelt out the pathway of righteousness, and his ministry of healing had shown the incredible graciousness of God. In them He had pointed out the pathway to peace.  The tragedy was that Jerusalem had turned its back on both his teaching and his works and was about to kill him. The consequence would be disaster and the loss of all peace. Tragedy always leaves us with a sense of pain. God feels the pain! 

The God Who Has To Judge

It would be very good if we could leave the Palm Sunday scene thinking only of this love and compassion of God. However, the second feature which is highlighted by the story is that, no matter how much God loves sinners, weeps over them and desires them to be spared, the judgement of God remains an awful reality. In fact if judgement were not devastatingly real God would not need to weep! His weeping for Jerusalem was there because his judgement was threatening it and it was no empty threat.

It would have been interesting to have heard the reactions of the people in the Palm Sunday crowds to Jesus’ prophecy of the coming destruction of Jerusalem. The vast majority of people would doubtless have brushed it aside. It was far too busy and exciting a time to listen to “that sort of silly stuff” with the great Feast of Passover looming and so much to do and see. We do know, however, that the ruling religious elite were to hear the same prophecy in parable form later in the week from Jesus’ own lips and that what they heard would confirm their decision to kill him (Lk.20:9ff). For them this Galilean upstart was talking inappropriate and uneducated nonsense among those who were in every way his superiors. It aroused not only their scorn but also their bitter anger.

The Prevailing Modern Outlook

Scorn and anger! These are still the two most common responses to any sort of speak about judgement in our own times. And this is particularly so among the “educated” elites of the modern world. The all-pervading liberal secularism has effectively brushed God and his restraints out of our thinking. With no God there can be no judgement!

Sadly, however, this prevailing world view has penetrated even the Christian world and we find Christian (and Jewish) scholars and leaders who insist that with God there can be no judgement for he is not that kind of God. Love alone can be allowed. Their contempt is very evident for the traditional understanding of judgement as something God brings or allows as punishment for wrong-doing.

 This, of course, is very far removed from the biblical witness. From the Garden of Eden in Genesis to the coming of Jesus as Judge in the book of Revelation God’s judgement remains a constant, persistent and utterly central theme. It is written large in the Old Testament history of the Jews and their law, it is written in the life, ministry and death of Jesus and in the New Testament epistles.

Throughout the whole of Scripture one simple note is sounded: “the wages of sin is death”. Thankfully it is not the only theme. The glory of the biblical witness is that there is forgiveness, avoidance of judgement and life wherever there is repentance and faith in God. This double message of warning and hope is plain for all to see, and the sternness of the message of judgement refuses to be “airbrushed” out by the foolishness of human intellectual wisdom.

 The very concept of judgement is, of course, horrific, and it is the sheer horror of it that remains a huge stumbling block for many people (and many Christians), and not without reason. Judgement is horrific because of its nature.

On nations it comes in the main as war, famine, disease and plague. The anguish, the pain and the distress these cause is appalling for all involved. We view it with revulsion and quite rightly so. When it comes, judgement can be very hard to take in or grasp. For many, many years Jeremiah preached judgement would come to sinful Judah, but when he eventually sat in the middle of Jerusalem after it had been cruelly smashed to pieces by the murderous Babylonian armies he found it nearly impossible come to terms with the reality and awfulness of the judgement he had so long preached. His lamentations are those of a deeply grieved and heart-broken man: “Oh, God, how can it be!” seems to sum up his thoughts. Many a tender soul over the years has doubtless expressed that same lamentation. When the casualty lists of WW1 were reported around Britain the heart break was deeply felt in thousands of households; grief hung over the nation like a shroud. But it is utterly wrong to think that God himself is not unmoved by such anguish and pain. On the contrary, he weeps. This is why God is “slow to judge”.

The Seriousness of Sin

The real problem in this question of judgement lies, however, in the fact that humanity fails to grasp how serious a matter it is to fail to walk with its Creator and live in godliness. “The Seriousness of Sin” has been the subject of many a sermon from God-fearing preachers down the centuries. It is a very important subject, not least in our own day. “The things that belong to our peace” of which the Jerusalem crowds were ignorant are the things we are so wilfully ignorant of to-day: fundamentally those things are faith in the Living God and righteousness of life.

The fact is that these things that lead to death are all too prevalent in our self-indulgent society; lust, greed, lying, gluttony, murder and the dismissal of God as unnecessary for life. They are not just surface issues; such behaviour is at the very core of modern living. God is not mocked! What makes sin such a serious matter is that God is serious about judging it and those who embrace it. 

No matter how unpalatable judgment may be we simply cannot write it off. The real challenge is to come to terms with it as a fact of life and to re-direct our lives in the light of it, heeding the warnings.

The Coronavirus Epidemic

And so we come to the Coronavirus epidemic – a plague now of world-wide dimension, and appallingly destructive!  Does God have a quarrel with the world? Its deep sin and godlessness is not covered by its scientific and technological brilliance. God measures people on the basis of his own his moral commands. It is time to take the biblical record much more seriously; there are many plagues in the bible and they are not there without reason nor are they random. They mark divine displeasure. The biblical answer to the question is one to be taken very seriously.  

What Should Christians do in the light of this?

Christians have been given the grace to come into the throne room of God to pray and intercede. We need to take our place there. 

1 The first requirement is to examine our own lives and look at our own standards in the light of God’s standards.  We need to make sure we are not part of the problem. We should point the finger at ourselves first. This is a crucial time for examining carefully our own life-styles and see how much of the world has impinged on us.

2 The second requirement is to acknowledge the sins of the nation, to repent and acknowledge the justice of God’s hand against us.

3 The third is to praise God for his love, his grace and his mercy. We have one plea only, the plea of Habakkuk, “Lord, in wrath remember mercy”. God remains merciful even in the midst of his judgments. He remains the God who weeps over those who “know not their right hand from their left”. Make much of his mercy and grace.

4 Finally it goes without saying that we should seek to be agents of the mercy and love of God in supporting and helping other people who find themselves in distress or need in the present predicament.

Click here to read more about Coronavirus and the judgements of God


It is very important for us to keep an eye on the progress of Brexit at this critical point in our history. Two headline statements made in the Press this week have stood out vividly for me, and call for comment:


Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England; on the planning and process of Brexit.


Title of a Newspaper Leader

This week Theresa May brought her Brexit “Deal” into the Commons to be debated and hopefully to be accepted. On the first day before the debate had really begun the Prime Minister and the government were found in breach of contempt of the House on three separate issues. This was totally unparalleled in the history of the Commons: three in the five year life of one parliament was not unusual, but three in one day bordered on the absurd. This was a very ominous start to the week-long debate. It was the first cannonade of uproar that continued to resound in the Commons.

One act of contempt stood out in particular; the Prime Minister had refused a full publication for the House of a report on the legal basis of her “Deal”. This had proved to be at the very least a misjudgement on Theresa May’s part. It was a failure to play her political cards correctly, and seemingly a result of an intransigence which would not take advice. True, it was not to her advantage in the debate to have the report published, but to have refused to publish simply made matters far worse in the event. It heightened the huge storm of protest (equally unparalleled) as she went on to outline and commend her “Deal”.

By day three of the debate, the rancour and heated division had reached a point where she found herself isolated and pleading with some emotion that she had put everything she had into making the “Deal” the best she could; she had worked hard and long and withstood any amount of abuse in her efforts to do her duty. She begged for support for her plan. Not surprisingly, it seems to have had little effect – the issues were too deep and important for that sort of personal appeal. This illustrates the tragedy of Theresa May. Without any question there has been widespread recognition of her sense of duty and commitment to the best for the country and there has been recognition of her refusal to get embroiled in any kind of political mud-slinging. She has maintained great and exemplary integrity. Unhappily, however, severe misjudgements have clearly dogged her path. A readiness to get on with the job and “go it alone” in the face of the confusion of ideas may have seemed in one sense laudable, but unfortunately her decision to “go it alone” proved to be one of her worst misjudgements. Losing all semblance of support, she tended to lean over into a disposition toward autocracy, and, not listening to advisors she came up with a plan that was so unworkable it pleased nobody.

“Incompetence” is a hard and derogatory word, and I have refrained from using out of respect for Theresa May’s integrity, but taking the Brexit process as a whole I think Mervyn King’s description of that process as being a demonstration of “incompetence on a monumental scale has to stand as very accurate. What I am anxious to underline about this comment is something I stressed in the last blog, namely that it is the classic description of what happens to decision making in government when a nation disowns its Maker. Even if there is a degree of courtesy and genuine selfless concern in any particular politician for what is right it is not sufficient to stem any process of judgement. Misjudgements, and devastating misjudgements with dire consequences, are bound to be made when the fear of God remains as ignored as it is in our nation, whoever might lead. Such misjudgements are quickly seen as incompetence.

The second quotation above, from the Press article, spoke of “dark forces” being released when normal “parliamentary politics break down”. Such a statement reflects with very great accuracy what can happen when political incompetence reaches such a degree that orderly government by due procedure and consensus starts to collapse. We can actually see this happening today in numerous places in our world where the dark forces of autocracy, violence and repression have begun to take over from disorderly democratic rule. Turkey is sadly perhaps the nearest country (being in Europe) to witness something of this downward spiral. The author of the article is not suggesting we have arrived at such a point, but he is certainly sounding a warning that we are moving in that direction. He noted that things become “problematic when there is a clash between the Executive and Parliament of the sort we are potentially seeing at the moment”.  He warns against complacency about civil upheaval. Historically we can never overlook the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the consequent rise of Hitler’s dark forces in what was a highly civilised Germany. The fact is that the road ahead of us with Brexit is highly fractious and dangerous. Almost any direction we take will be divisive, and the chaos of bitter division is the point of entry for dark forces. What we need to recognise is that division and bitterness is again something that humanity walks into (whether in Parliament or anywhere else) when we move away from God’s pathway of righteousness.

As a nation we have been under the growing judgement of God for some years. Rather than getting back to God we have as a nation rather increased the speed at which we are rejecting the moral behaviour which he requires. We have increasing lost any semblance of being a “God” culture, and we have reached a crisis point in His dealings with us.

The greatest gift God could give us as a nation at the moment in His mercy would be that of sound competent and godly leadership, but to be sure of that the greater need is for the nation to find its way back to the God of its forefathers.

“In wrath remember mercy”.

07 – 12 – 18


Everybody apparently is bored with BREXIT; at least this is what the headlines have told us this week. Unfortunately we can’t afford to be bored! It is far too serious a matter. A huge amount depends upon the outcome. A well-known reputable weekly journal put the situation perfectly when one of its columnists wrote, “One thing increasingly clear in the fog of Brexit is that it is the most serious domestic crisis Britain has faced in the modern democratic era”. He went on to quote the transport minister’s remark that in its Brexit dealings the government was responsible for “a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis in 1976”.  He noted that others had compared “the current debacle” of Brexit to the IMF’s bail out of Britain in 1976 and the gold standard crisis of 1931. He continued, “In fact it is worse than anything else Britain has experienced in peacetime. The political system is all but paralysed, the country is divided into warring ideological tribes, the civil service is overwhelmed, and in the event of no deal, Britain would be staring into the abyss”.

These are very serious comments. The Press is not averse to “building up” a crisis, of course – crises sell newspapers and journals! But these comments do not strike me as being in that category. Despite the “fog” of the Brexit process, it is patently obvious that we have a government in confusion and crisis, following a leader with whom very few agree and with whom most strongly disagree, and consequently utterly unable to come to any kind of real consensus at a time when the nation faces one of the most critical decisions of its history.  The possibility of much greater chaos when the House of Commons debate the Prime Minister’s plans is all too real. The fall-out could be extremely serious, with political collapse leading even to dangerous autocratic political take-overs.

No! We cannot afford to be bored – certainly Christians cannot – we have a responsibility.

Serious as this massive political issue is, however, there is a much more serious issue surrounding it than just finding the right political solution. Irrespective of the issue being a complex Brexit, the sheer incompetence of the process, the appalling and aggressive nature of the in-fighting, the confused chaos of the process are all pointing to something deeper, something spiritual. This “something” needs to be stated bluntly, and it is that God is indicating his displeasure against the nation. This is the sort of thing that happens when nations do not walk in the “fear of the Lord”, and have no regard for Him and his moral requirements. They degenerate.

To make this sort of remark is, of course, to invite from most people an immediate disdainful response. Such comment belongs, they reckon, to the “loony fringe”. The biblical prophets knew all about that kind of reaction! Such reaction is only to be expected, however, for this world has little time for God and its Maker as it blindly battles on in its own supposed “wisdom”. But those who have come to know the reality of a holy God have come to know that God is utterly central to our life and our well-being. They realise that He is not indifferent to the way we live but expects godliness and righteousness, and that if we do not walk that way we can meet with trouble in our lives! Furthermore our God is the God of the nations; he created them and expects of them what he expects of individuals. When they honour Him, he blesses them; when they arrogantly reject Him and his ways they meet with trouble – trouble of all kinds, and incompetent and chaotic government is frequently one such kind of trouble.

This  is not an obscure or extreme or “fringe” idea. It is written on page after page of the biblical record, and we meet with it in most of the books of the Bible. The Old Testament in particular is essentially a story about a nation – the Jewish nation. But it also the story of many other nations alongside Israel. As the biblical history of those nations unfolds, it is constantly commenting on the well-being or demise of those nations and demonstrating one essential theme; that those nations and their leaders who walk in God’s ways experience wisdom and blessing, and those who do not walk in his ways experience distress of every kind. This is no “fringe” idea; it is an utterly central idea, culminating in clear and definitive fashion with all the main biblical prophets. It is “fringe” only to those who have no time for God, though, sadly, it may also be “fringe” to those whose faith in God is only “personal” and does not grasp God’s deep concern for the nations.

The lesson from the biblical record is that our “troubles” as a nation will continue (and get worse) as long as we insist on living the way we live. Violence is on the increase, sexual immorality and confusion abounds, greed, covetousness and corruption are very much with us even at the highest levels of society and seemingly know no bounds; and our children are more and more tainted with what is not good, but destructive.

No, Brexit is not really the main national problem; it is only an ugly symptom of the main problem. The real problem is the systematic way we have strayed away from the fundamental requirements of God – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and your neighbour as yourself”. The second of those two requirements (love your neighbour) is totally dependent on the dynamic provided by the first (love the Lord your God). The nation has chosen a liberal secular belief system, opening the way for an increasingly self-indulgent life style, and the movement away from God has been swift. We have lost  the anchor to which we have held (albeit often with lip service) for centuries. It is no longer woven into the national fabric. We have reverted to paganism. In all our praying for the nation (so desperately needed at this time) the confession of this must be paramount.

We are left literally to the mercy of God. He is ready to judge, but he is able to have mercy and restore. There is no other positive platform for our prayer other than that of pleading his mercy. “It is of his mercies that we are not consumed“.



Before you were born I sanctified you; and I ordained you a prophet to the nations” Jer. 1:5

God is interested and concerned for the small things (he made the atoms) and for the big things (he made the universe). He is concerned for everything he has made simply because he is the Creator and takes pleasure in what he has made. He is very concerned for the least noticed of individuals and equally concerned for the largest of nations. So he watches the nations and he weighs their actions; he watches their rulers and their people. He has never “switched off” from that concern and he has never put the world on “auto pilot”.

God’s concern for nations was the very first thing Jeremiah learned when God called him to be a prophet. God told him that before he was born God (already planning for the future) had chosen him to be a prophet and, moreover, a prophet “to the nations”. The calling to be a prophet was a very high and privileged calling. Prophets were privileged to hear what  God was thinking and what he planned to do both with individuals and nations, and in Jeremiah’s case particularly what he wanted to do with the Jews, his own people. And in their turn those to whom the prophet was sent with his “word” were equally privileged. Through the prophet they would receive guidance, support and warning. On the whole the Old Testament Jewish nation (both Israel and Judah) recognized and honoured the prophet and his calling. Sadly, however, only too often they rejected what the prophets were saying when they most needed to listen to them and take their warnings seriously. Jewish leaders were prone to listen to the “false prophets” (self-ordained prophets who had not really heard from God) who spoke to them the things they wanted to hear rather than what they needed to hear. They much preferred the words, “Peace, peace” to the word “Repent!”

But it was not just the Jews that were privileged to hear the “word of the Lord” from the Israelite prophets. It is quite clear that all the surrounding nations were given words of warning by those same prophets. They, too, were hearing of the expectations of justice and righteousness that God required from all nations. They were hearing of the judgements that would come if those expectations were not met.

In the providence of God these prophetic pronouncements to the Jews and to the nations have come down to us in our generation in written form from several of these prophets, forming as they do a very significant part of the Old Testament scripture. These writings cover the best part of two centuries of prophetic activity. Together they form one large, continuous and united flow of the mind and heart of God as he dealt with the nations of that era. They all bear witness to a God who loves and requires righteousness and who brings about severe correction and judgement where they are where those requirements. They are not just of historical interest, though a knowledge of their history is essential in order to fully grasp their message. They are essentially a collection of the timeless principles on which God deals with nations, why they prosper and why they fail. They underline very clearly that God has dealings with the nations and that no nation can afford to neglect his laws. It is this that makes them intensely relevant to any real understanding of our own times. The prophetic warnings given more than 2500 years ago are as applicable as much today as they were then. God has not changed, people have not essentially changed, and nations have not changed despite the passage of time. In fact the similarities in behaviour from then and now are very striking. God is still at work among the nations today, he is still weighing them on the same scales of righteousness and justice and he remains a god who judges evil. How very sad, then, that the prophets remain a closed book for many of God’s people to-day; how very mistaken and foolish that we should think we have matured and those principles no longer apply.

Jeremiah was born to be a person who would hear God speaking to the nations and would be required to speak out what he heard to the nations. He was hearing the “word of the Lord”! The words he spoke had a divine stamp on them; they were beyond human wisdom and human assessments. They were not just relevant to one generation but were valid for all other generations. God does not change – his principles abide.  God’s commission to Jeremiah was very strong: “I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant”. Jer. 1: 9-10. Even as Jeremiah was commissioned with these words God emphasized what he was saying by touching his prophet’s mouth. Whatever the nature of that touch was, it utterly confirmed to Jeremiah that he was indeed speaking God’s word, not his own. He was to be God’s mouthpiece, God’s spokesman, God’s messenger.

In a very real sense, however, this word to Jeremiah was even stronger than endorsing his credentials as a speaker of divine truth. The expression “I have set you this day over nations … to destroy … and to build” almost seems to convey on Jeremiah a power to bring about on the nations what he is pronouncing over them. It is as though Jeremiah himself is destroying or building. The phrasing is quite astounding. What it means is that by simply speaking out prophetically God’s word for a nation Jeremiah would also actually bring about the enactment of the word. By simply speaking judgment as God’s mouthpiece, he would cause judgement to happen. This is understandable if we keep in mind the fact that in principle when God declares something will happen then his very declaration is the first step in making it happen; God speaks and what he speaks comes into being. This is fundamentally how creation itself came into being – “God said let there be light, and there was light”. God in fact underlines for Jeremiah the importance of his speaking out by giving him a vision. It is a very simple but unusual and enigmatic vision of an almond tree (1:11-12). God asks Jeremiah what he sees. Jeremiah replies, “An almond tree”. The Hebrew word for “almond tree” is almost exactly the same as the word “watching”, and it’s as though Jeremiah had said “watching”. God’s interpretation of the vision to Jeremiah was “I am watching over my word to make it happen”. In this way God was making sure that he understood that he was not prophesying mere words but words which God had every intention of making happen. It is indeed astonishing that God should require his word to be spoken out as crucial for it happening. For Jeremiah it was sharp reminder that he was not just playing with words but that his prophesying was integral to what God was going to do. It was a ministry of power, not just words.

Jeremiah was also warned by God of the opposition he would receive as he declared the “word of the Lord”. He was told that the kings of Judah, the princes, the priests and the people would all “fight against him” (Jer.1:18-19. In the main the thrust of the prophecies would be of judgement on nations bent on idolatry and self-indulgent behaviour. It would not be well received, but would be met by self-justification and even hatred and violence. That fact in itself was also ultimately to be enshrined in our Scriptures, that those who spoke up for righteousness would be hated and rejected in a nation that was bent on godless ways.

Bob Dunnett


This is a nation that has not obeyed the LORD its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips” Jer. 7:28

They make ready their tongue like a bow to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land.” Jer. 9:3

 God opened the eyes of his prophet Jeremiah as he looked hard at the people of Judah, and amongst the many revelations that both impressed and hurt him was the realization that everywhere he looked there was dishonesty and deceit. When the word of the LORD came to him about this matter it was very sharp and jolting, “Truth has perished!” Doubtless there were people in Judah who were honest and trustworthy but the prevailing characteristic of the nation was an embedded dishonesty. The apple, so to speak, had one or two green patches but on the whole it was rotten. And the rot was growing – it was virtually impossible to stop it. I wonder how we in our own country and in the West generally might score in God’s sight on this issue; how rotten is our own apple?

The fact is that lying, deceiving, dissimulating, insinuating, accusing, backbiting and the like are constantly being exposed in the business world, the political world, the financial world, and the professional world as well as the world of work generally. Ironically most of the exposure comes largely through the world of media which itself becomes more and more hypocritical and deceitful. The emergence of “fake news” has added a whole new and dangerous dimension to all this.

Perhaps the most disturbing feature, however, is the fact that in all these areas many of the very highest echelons of leaders seem to be involved in this deceit and lying. It was, for example, something of a shock that in the motor world the deliberate falsification of the readings of the emission level of diesel engines was not something that came about through dishonest activity in back street garages, but was programmed into the original instruments of the cars during manufacture with the connivance of the people at the highest management level of the most “reputable” of car makers. Likewise the revelation that numbers of M.P.s were grossly falsifying their expenses accounts equally brought shock waves. It seemed that in precisely the places that you would expect honesty and integrity the opposite was to be found. The scam of “injury compensation” touted by unscrupulous lawyers brought defamation to a profession where one would certainly have expected integrity. The notion that those who have the most responsibility should show the greatest honesty is not now a sentiment that is commonly held. When the leaders, makers and shakers, and the role models of society behave without integrity and truth the cancer soon spreads throughout society. A society that cannot look up to its leaders for good examples of living is a society that is in decline.

Lies and deceit are, of course, really the offspring and consorts of other and worse behaviour. Those whose lives are bent at all costs on securing positions of power and influence find that their ambitions are frequently to be gained and kept by false accusations and deceits; it is very difficult for them not to undermine rivals with slander and gossip, and more difficult still to maintain integrity in an atmosphere where it is lacking. For those whose main aim is riches in abundance deceit, lying, falsification all too often become an easy tempting road to success. Adultery or “having an affair” inevitably leads to a destructive web of deceit and denials. What we may conclude from this fact is that a society which can be characterized as dishonest will be invariably a society in which much deeper evils are to be found. Lying is the fungus growing on the deeper decay.

The important question is whether we are looking at something in our nation that has always been there and not exposed, or whether we are witnessing something of a real and serious moral decline. People have always lied, but has it ever been quite so rampant? The answer to the question has been coming from a number of different directions and there seems little doubt there is a consensus that we are in fact seeing a moral decline. The sanctions which kept control over our behaviour have now either gone or been severely weakened. The area of sexual behaviour probably provides the clearest evidence of this. Certainly what was viewed as pornographic only a decade or so ago is now mainstream in all kinds of publications and not just tabloids. Two or three decades ago such publications would have produced an outcry. But in an increasingly self- indulgent money-obsessed society we have seen the loss of sanctions in all directions, and particularly the sanctions which are a crucial aspect of a Christian culture and which have lapsed with the retreat from Christian faith. The Ten Commandments no longer stand tall in the background of life and warn of danger.

When the word of the LORD, “Truth has perished” came to Jeremiah it did not mean that only speaking honestly and with integrity had died among his generation. It also meant that the truth about God has also perished in their midst. Their understanding of God, their fear of God, their trust in Him and their keeping of his ways had all been lost in preference to a clinging to idols of their own creation. People were worshipping what they had made rather than the Creator who had made everything. Their idols were in every way more convenient for their life-style, particularly since they called for no sanctions on their behaviour. On the contrary their idols encouraged loose sexual behaviour along with riotous living. In our own day man himself, the human being, has become the great idol and put centre stage. The human rational intellect is seen as the fountain of wisdom and to be lauded above all else. But man, like other idols, does not in himself bar the way to easy access to sexual looseness and riotous living. The call is now to trust our enlightened grasp of science and technology – this will give us the answer to everything. Philosophy (the love of wisdom) has replaced theology (the study and understanding of God), even though philosophers themselves have made it clear that philosophy is not likely to change behaviour. Ours is a generation which has lost the “Truth”. Pilate asked Jesus, What is truth?” He did not receive an answer, but Jesus had already made the answer very clear in his teaching with the words, “I am the way, the truth and the life”.  God, and God alone, is truth at the deepest level. It is because we have lost the TRUTH Himself that we have inevitably become a people who cannot speak the truth. It is God who hates lies and deceit and demands utter integrity. Without his Spirit we inevitably fall from the grace of honesty.

Remember, Jeremiah is not carrying out an historical survey of Judah; he is a prophet with a message from God, and the message is one of judgement on societies which are too blind or clever to acknowledge their Maker and his ways.


Bob Dunnett   09/10/17


The foundational pamphlets which brought this website into being were studies of the prophet Amos and his message to the northern kingdom of Israel. That message was of great relevance to our own nation. It took the form of stern warnings against a godless and selfish, money seeking society for which pleasure took precedence over all else. The warnings were of the inevitable judgements of God against such a corrupt society. The ultimate judgement was that the Israelites would lose their land and find themselves in exile. The Israelites were in no mood to take heed to such warnings and they were either ignored or bitterly resented. In the event it was some thirty years from the time that Amos first began to warn the Israelites until the ultimate judgement actually overtook them. During those thirty years, however, there were serious developments in the political life of the nation; developments which should have made them realize they were on a downward trend nationally. Those developments were in themselves judgements of God.

The first of these trends was growing political disintegration. I quote from an earlier pamphlet: “The first sign of the withdrawal of God’s favour from the nation came in the form of political disintegration and loss of stability. On the death of Jeroboam the nation was straight away plunged into political chaos. Within 12 months Jeroboam’s son who succeeded him was assassinated, and his son’s killer and usurper was also assassinated. The latter’s murderer, Menahem, managed to hold on for 8 years, but only in a bloodthirsty atmosphere of brutal civil war. When Menahem’s son succeeded him, he also failed to last a year, and was murdered. His murderer survived only four years before the Assyrians deposed him. Thus the mark of those years was a chaotic struggle among rivals to gain and hold power. This took precedence over everything else, dragging down the nation, and making effective government impossible”. Political disintegration is unfortunately becoming more marked in the western world, not least in the USA (where politics seem to have reached a lock-down), and our own country.

The second trend was of growing political incompetence, especially in foreign affairs. The Israelites badly judged their own vulnerability in the face of the growing Assyrian super power and eventually were responsible for the foolish policies which opened the door to Assyrian conquest of their land.

A third mark of divine disfavour can be found in the debilitating effect of widespread and increasing political corruption in the nation, not least among its political leaders. I quote again from a previous pamphlet: “Hosea, a near contemporary of Amos, and whose main prophetic activity was at its height during these decades of collapse, sums up the situation with Israel’s leaders in a few terse comments: “their rulers dearly love shameful ways” (4:18); “Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones” (5:10); “They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers, burning like an oven …On the day of the festival of our king the princes become inflamed with wine … (7:3-7). Thus the personal degradation of the rulers was very marked were dishonest, they were dissolute, they were drunkards, and they loved it. They were arrogant. Justice and integrity had died. There was no political integrity because there was no personal integrity. The two, of course, can never be disassociated: humanity cannot keep corruption confined to one compartment of its life – it spreads all over. It is a sign of decadence when politicians insist that public life and personal life can be held in separate compartments.

I am writing this on the same morning that the resignation of our Defense Secretary and a senior Minister of the government has been announced. His resignation is due to the “sex scandal” among members of parliament. The same appalling “sleaze” which has been has been exposed at Hollywood threatens to rock the very centre of our government. More exposures are expected; and all this at a time when the stresses and strains of government are at an extreme level with disintegration not too far away. The situation is distinctly disturbing.

Has this behavior always been there? Many would say, “yes!” But many would suspect it has reached new levels. Sex is “in the air”, and open in a way that it has not been before. It certainly points at moral corruption. But does this exposure amount to a new moral beginning? Are we to see a new moral outlook? Or is that taking optimism too far? I suspect it is. The fact is our present position mirrors Amos’s position only too well. We are seeing only too clearly an aspect of the judgement of God.

Perhaps I should add a further quote from the pamphlet mentioned above: It was not political corruption in high places alone that marked the years of rapid decline, however. The corruption was endemic in the whole nation. Greed and gain among the rich provided not only a degenerate example to the less affluent, but drove those who were poorer to evil ways in order to keep up or even to survive. In this way corruption led to violence. Hosea again paints the picture: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds and bloodshed follows bloodshed” (4:1-2). The corruption and evil with which the nation had lived for fifty years, and by which it had lived a profligate lifestyle, was now to become part of the cancer which was to render it incapable of a strong response to the danger it was to face. The political leadership was absolutely incapable of addressing these deep moral and social issues: it was actually itself a part of the problem”.

The signs are all there – time is running out!


Bob Dunnett                  02/10/17


In his letter to the Romans Paul makes some incisive and disturbing observations about the pagan and Gentile world in which he found himself preaching as an apostle of the gospel of Jesus. They are increasingly appropriate for today’s world in the West. He noted that “the wrath of God was being revealed against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who were supressing the truth by their wickedness” (Rom 1:18). Their “suppressing of the truth” lay in the rejection of the Creator God despite all the evidence of His power and nature in the creation around them. The pagan world had rejected God and made its own idols; it “served created things rather than the Creator”. Paul goes on to say that God’s response to this was “to give them over to their evil desires” and their destructive consequences. This was a first stage in his judgement, or his wrath.

Paul goes on to itemise some of those evil desires that were drawing down his wrath. It is noticeable that the first of these is impure sexual desire. It is a fact that sexual immorality is always very pronounced in every society that we have been accustomed to call decadent. It was certainly very evident in the “classical” Gentile world of Paul. Not that a decadent society necessarily sees itself as decadent! It always has some excuse or rationalisation of its sexual permissiveness. The modern excuse is “human freedom”! For Paul impure sexual desire is everything that is indulged in outside of a marriage bond and outside of a “natural” relationship. For him it was the first marker of a society going downhill, the first sign of God’s displeasure.

I do not think it would be out of place to say that Paul would have made the same observation about our own society. He would have seen ours as a society increasingly obsessed (“given over”) with impure sexual activity of almost every kind. In an interesting book entitled “Full Circle”, by a note classicist called Ferdinand Mount who has no particular Christian bias, the author finds an extraordinary similarity between the Graeco-Roman world (which was Paul’s Gentile world) and our own. Amongst many other aspects of life he finds a marked similarity of wide sexual licence. His general thesis is to demonstrate how remarkable a likeness our modern society has to that pagan world – we have come “full circle”. We would want to add to his thesis, however, that the reason for this is that the historic Christian structures have fallen badly to pieces in the last half century.

In the last two or three weeks alone there have been some gross examples of the symptoms of the sexual decadence which markedly underline our present predicament. The first of these was the media treatment of the death of the founder of Playboy Magazine, a man who had made a huge fortune out of his pornography and who had created a “castle” in which he played out his sexual fantasies surrounded by women who seemed only too happy to be demeaned by his behaviour. Not only was he was given a full obituary by normally “respectable” outlets but the obituaries all spoke in terms of a celebrity career of lively interest. His had been an OK life. Not one word or hint of reproach.

A second example followed quickly. A reputable T.V. channel showed a documentary on Amsterdam. As might be expected it started in the art galleries with an interesting, though short, focus on Rembrandt. It went on to depict the wealth of the merchants, architecture and an industrious sea-faring nation. It skipped along at no great depth, but it finally ended in the red-light district of Amsterdam. Most people are aware of this feature of that city but not with open approval. It was very much, however, an attraction to the programme makers and sponsors. It was given more than a fair share of time and its seamy side was hidden in what was almost a glamorisation of the business of “sex workers”. It ended with the presenter sitting in the shop window to advertise herself to the men passing by. This was obviously seen as good avant-garde TV and rather “amusing”. It followed the general bent that somewhere somehow sex has to appear in publications: it helps to sell.

A third example is more distressing. Recent press articles have indicated an alarming increase in the levels of pornography which are being watched young children as well as adolescents. They have also focussed on the sharp increase in sexual bullying and assault among the young. Children have always, and naturally, been inquisitive about sex – it is part of growing up. But clearly we have moved into a much more harmful and deeper phase. It does not bode well for the society in which they will eventually be adults, nor does it bode well for them individually. Add to all this the extraordinary confusion about sexual identity and the dubious sexual education for the very young being fostered in schools and we have a picture of a society that perhaps even the ancient world might look at with some dismay.

I venture to say that our society has been “given over” to its demands for “sexual freedom”. Ever since the “Swinging Years of the 1960s” the trend has been steadily downward. The “sexual freedom” has not had quite the results its proponents imagined. The truth is that it has broken many lives and in particular it has had very serious effects in the break-up of family life and consequent damaged children. In the process of “freedom” some 5 million children have been aborted. But the truth is hidden away and any mention of it is aggressively dismissed. However, if we sow to the wind we reap the wind!

We need to remember the starting point of all this. Paul is very clear about it; it is the rejection of God, the throwing off of restraints and the raising of our own idols. The rejection of God has grown apace alongside the demands of sex, and the judgement grows apace. The apple of sexual freedom looks good to eat, but it brings about destruction.

Our prayer for spiritual revival and the mercy of God are at a premium.


Bob Dunnett


The last blog featured the apocalyptic horsemen of Revelation.  Apocalyptic though it may have been, it spoke clearly about the world we live in!  This week’s blog features a real life illustration of the warning behind one of those apocalyptic horsemen.  I have in mind the current North Korean threat which seems only too well to relate to the red horseman who took peace away from the world.

Why has such small country, exactly half the size of the UK and with less than half the population of the UK, suddenly become the source of much apprehension and alarm in the world?  It has become a powder keg big enough to blow apart the delicate balance between much greater super-powers who have atomic weapons and have learned, so far at any rate, to live without using them.

The first reason we can give is that North Korea is geographically in a prime strategic position between China and the USA. The USA has great influence in the Far East on account of its military presence and connection with South Korea and Japan.  This has always been an embarrassment to the rapidly developing China. North Korea (attached to the Chinese border) is something of a buffer against this USA presence and China watches North Korea’s independence of the USA very closely and jealously.  The Chinese are not prepared for North Korea to come under American influence. This has been the case ever since the Chinese unleashed their army to control North Korea in the early 1950s when the US army looked like taking the whole of Korea from the communists. The border between North and South remains an impregnable flash point nearly 70 years later. Thus, because of its communist affinities with China and because of its border with China, North Korea has been able to develop relatively undisturbed, and in particular able to develop its atomic weaponry.  Hidden and shielded it has grown into a monster.

Perhaps a more crucial explanation of its present threatening behaviour lies in the nature of the political structure and its philosophy which has developed since 1948 when the North was separated from the South by a U.N. resolution.  In the seventy years from that resolution there have been three generations of ruthless autocratic government centred on one family.  Their power is absolute and the veneration of them is constantly demanded of the people (and seemingly willingly given); two huge statues of the two “Kim”s that have died are placed in the area of the central government buildings and Koreans constantly kneel before these statues. Elsewhere there are 70 bronze statutes and tens of thousands of other monuments of the founding Kim further encouraging this pseudo-religious personality cult.  The founder is called the “Eternal President” and his son “The Eternal General Secretary”.  It is a type of idolatry that recalls the Pharaohs of Egypt and other god-like rulers of history. This is a communism with an extraordinary idolatrous twist.

Alongside this, the vulnerability of the nation has inevitably led to an autocracy which is very heavily militaristic.  For its size North Korea has an enormously powerful army, ready and fully equipped, presenting a massive threat to South Korea. The military is the one great boast of the regime to its people.  This is part of the ideology of “Juche” (self-determination or self-reliance and “action with reference to no other power”).  All this has been achieved through immense deprivation among the people of North Korea. The development of atomic weaponry which is a threat to the USA is a crucial part of this militarism.  It is seen to be a critical factor in undergirding the regime, and it will allow North Korea to put enormous pressure on South Korea and even to get it under the North’s control.  The unification of Korea has always been a prime aim of the Kim.

After so many years of such entrenchment and development the fact is that the world is in very real danger; a deluded autocrat with an iron grip on his country and with a deadly ambition of the most destructive type is a world threat.  The present Kim is more likely to die in the destruction his ambition brings than to give it up.  Talking to him is highly unlikely to bring about a change of mind;  and mockery of Kim by the USA at Presidential level is certainly not helpful; it can only harden the determination of the dictator.

However, there is one great weakness for the regime.  It is not in any way a self-sufficient economy; indeed it has been very heavily dependent on outside aid and support from its inception. Starving the economy of an already starving population would inevitably bring huge pressure on the regime. China, though reluctantly, is at last tightening its grip and making its sanctions bite (this week it has sent home all the N. Korean business men – or so it seems).  The question is whether the sanctions will achieve their aim and prevent Kim getting together his atomic warhead and long range missiles or whether they will be too late. The situation is critically poised.

What I have written so far is an analysis of the human factors in the situation; is there a “spiritual analysis?  We might make a start in that direction by asking how it is possible that men of the stamp of Kim, deluded and destructive, gain power and control?  Why do they appear? History has always been full of them.  The 20th century had a surfeit of such rulers, and the 21st century is following suit.  The answer lies fundamentally in the fact that “the whole world lies in the hand of the evil one”. “The Prince of this world” is active in the human principalities and powers (rulers and leaders) of this world by means of the principalities and powers of the unseen world.  The “unseen spiritual powers” impinge on the “visible human powers” and bring their evil character to them.  So this world’s rulers very frequently live through imposing fear and violence both on their own domain and on others.  Satan’s imprint is to be seen in many other ways.  We need to give full weight to the fact that Satan was able to offer all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus in an effort to thwart the coming of the Kingdom of God.  Sadly this kind of fundamental truth is all too often lost in much of our secularised Christian thinking.  But Satan is the Prince of this world, a world ruler, and he has placed many tyrants in power in that world. Thankfully it is also true that God is God and has the ultimate rule over the world and over the Prince of this world and what he can do.  When God allows Satan to raise up destructive leadership in nations (or even confusion in a nation) it is always in order that God’s purposes might be fulfilled.  In particular he allows such happenings as a form and measure of judgement on the world.  We have very clear examples of this in the rise of Assyria and Babylon in Old Testament history.  It is God who writes the essential narratives of history, and he is writing our current history! “His judgements are in all the world”!

Professional historians are given to debating whether events are caused by momentary human decisions or by long term trends or by some combination of both. For them God is not a factor. And for all their historical knowledge they can never be accurate in forecasting events. But for us God is the fundamental factor, the key to proper understanding of events.  Thus with regard to the present great danger, we cannot say for sure how the Korean threat will ultimately work out. Any number of contingencies are possible, some leading to peace, some to destructive war. But the essential fact is that God holds the reins . The decisions that matter are always made in the courts of heaven, not in the ruling bodies of humanity.  It is for this reason that we must address ourselves to having a clear spiritual analysis and, as a watchman for the world, to seeking God for his mercy.

The one thing we may be sure of is that the situation with Korea is a warning bell from God!


Bob Dunnett


Chapters 4, 5 and 6 of the Book of Revelation give us an unparalleled and clear vista of the glory of God’s heaven and the contrasting devastations of the earth on which we live. They give us immense hope for the future and a sober warning for the present. The prophetic symbolism (unlike much of Revelation) is very clear and does not require any “clever” interpretation; the implications are all too evident.

Chapter 4 shows us a throne in heaven.  The first thing we are told is that it was encircled by an emerald rainbow – a sign of mercy and goodwill.  The Person on the throne sparkled like jewels of contrasting reds (jasper and ruby), and the sight was threatening.  From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder; these were certainly threatening. In front of the throne were the blazing lights of the sevenfold Holy Spirit – an awesome sight.  Glory, power, judgement and mercy are all interlocked in this vivid sight.  All heaven and earth is seen giving praise, honour and worship to the One on the throne.  It is a vision of God in terms which we mortals can understand and to which we can relate.  This is the great eternal God who alone rules and is truly to be feared but who offers mercy.  The major impact of the vision was one in which the holiness and awesomeness of God was dominant.  It must have been a life changing moment for John to whom the vision was given.  It reminds us that we all need a vision of God that enters deep into our hearts, in whatever way it may come.

Chapter 5 moves the vision further on. Standing at the very centre of the throne was a “Lamb looking as if it had been slain” – unmistakably the crucified Jesus, but now very much alive and at the centre of power and glory.  He had seven horns (complete fullness of power) and seven eyes (symbolising his utter oneness with the Holy Spirit). The Lamb took a scroll from the hand of the Person on the throne and prepared to open it, for such was his unique privilege.  The scroll (as the succeeding chapters show) was what was determined for the future on the earth, and the Lamb alone could open the scroll and bring that future to pass.  As he took the scroll all heaven and earth ascribed to the Lamb and to the One on the throne “praise and honour and glory and power”.  Nowhere in the New Testament is there anything to surpass this majestic picture of Jesus, or to surpass the picture of his divinity, power and rule in this world.  For John, suffering persecution, it would have brought an immense depth of comfort and strength.  It may well be that we shall need for ourselves in the future this sort of clarity of vision of the reality of the power of Jesus; indeed for many in the world it is essential in their present sufferings.

Chapter 6 brings us to the scene where the Lamb starts to open the seals which fasten the scroll and in this chapter the lamb opens six of seven seals to reveal the essential features of the future of the world; the seventh seal (the final episode of what is planned for the earth) is kept over for much longer treatment.  The first of these seals is opened to reveal a white horse whose rider held a bow, was given a crown and who rode out to conquer.  There has been discussion over this but in context it seems clear that this represents the conquests of the gospel.  The white horse contrasts very sharply and favourably with the garish colours of the next three horses who are to follow, and in Revelation 19:11 the white horse appears again and its rider unmistakeably identified as Jesus, the Word of God. The message is clear; the gospel of the Kingdom will make conquests in this world.  It is most fitting that this good news with its certainty of the extension of the gospel in this world is announced first.  Jesus has come to conquer, to gain a crown befitting the King of Peace, and whatever else may happen in the world this gathering in of a kingdom of believers will take place.  We have now seen some two thousand years of this conquest of the gospel, and in our own generation there have been more conquests for the gospel than have ever been seen before.

The next three seals which the Lamb opens are a marked and unpleasant contrast.  On these three occasions we see first a fiery red horse whose rider makes people kill each other – a picture of the wars that are to come.  This is followed by a black horse whose rider holds a pair of scales; there is a shout indicating shortages and rising costs. It’s a picture of famine on the earth.  When the fourth seal is broken there is revealed a pale horse whose rider is called Death and who is given power over a quarter of the world’s population to kill by sword, famine, plague and wild beasts.  The overall picture given by the opening of these three seals has been precisely the story of world history ever since John’s Revelation was written.  Moreover it echoes precisely the prophetic statements made by Jesus during the week before his crucifixion.  This the reality of the world in which we live.  The vision of John should never leave us in a mind-set of unalterable “fate”, for the rainbow is always over the throne and the Lamb is always open to the cries of his people.  Those of us who love peace should never cease to work and pray for peace in the world, and there can be no doubt that such work and prayer will yield fruit.  There is always mercy in wrath.  But we should not be taken by surprise nor offended at what we see happening in the world around us.  God has forewarned us.

There is a fifth seal which the Lamb breaks open and which reveals a further feature of the pattern of history. This takes the shape of a vision of the souls of those who have been conquered by the gospel and followed the Lamb but who have been killed for their testimony.  Persecution of the people of God has always been part of the spread of the gospel. Jesus himself was the prime example, though even throughout Old Testament times it was feature among those who kept close to God and announced his word.  Jesus himself during his earthly ministry underlined the fact of persecution in his teaching.  Again this awful truth should in no wise prevent us from praying earnestly for those who are being persecuted, or those in danger of such persecution.  On the contrary it should instil in us a deep sense of commitment to pray for them and to seek God for their strengthening and their release.

The Book of Revelation may be difficult in parts, but it is a book very much for the uncertain times in which we live. It’s prophetic clarity and accuracy is quite breath-taking.  It sets out the world scene with a very great deal more of reality than the normal secular historical survey.  Its real grandeur lies, however, in the great statements of the new creation that is to come and the glory that surrounds it.  It offers the hope of becoming part of that new creation and its inexpressible joy.  The note of hope is so much bigger than the note of the judgements, but that latter note is needed, nonetheless.  More of that anon!


Bob Dunnett